Team LOL- Fight for Air! We were Awesome!

This is the third year I’ve had the great experience of putting together a team for the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air stair climb. Team LOL grows a little bigger and better each year and has a lot of personality in it. I get the honor of the title “captain” but in reality, the team is the heart of LOL.  The athleticisms, personalities, and grit of the members of LOL have nothing to do with me. I’m the lucky one who gets to call these folks my teammates. Together we form a team that not only makes some serious clownery but also amazing speed in the stairwells.

On Saturday Team LOL raced the stairs once again in the ALA’s Fight for air. While the recap is from my experience, I hope that I captured a bit of LOL in it. Unfortunately, the photos won’t be out until the end of the week so you’ll have to deal with some phone cam photos for now and no pictures from inside the stairwells. Hopefully I’ll remember to come back and add more later.

Minnesota got hit with a pretty nasty storm on Thursday running into Friday which affected the roads for Saturday’s climb a bit. Rain fell followed by about 10 inches of snow creating some lovely driving conditions for everyone and making the commute times longer than normal. I set my alarm dutifully for an earlier time in order to make it to the US Bank Plaza by 7am when LOL’s 3 power hour climbers were due to start and then dutifully hit the snooze button when it went off. Oops. Don’t worry, I’m capable of getting ready extremely fast when I need to and did so on Saturday morning.

I skipped breakfast and threw my hair into a pony tail. Tossed on my MNRW singlet and woke up the hubby. I was excited!  I was ready to rock out the stairs and take all the lessons from the CFF climb and put them to use. No negative thoughts today.

We hit the road in the Limovan and slowly crept our way towards the tower. I knew we were going to be a little late and hoped my teammates would hear me cheering loudly and forgive me.  On the way I had to pee, like really…I had to pee.  We got to the tower and the climb hadn’t started yet! I saw our power hour climbers lined up…there was a 10 minute delay and so we could run over and give them a “GOOD LUCK, GO GET ‘EM” then I shot off to the bathroom.

So, what were these LOLers doing? Three of our LOL teammates were participating in the Ultimate Climb. Climbing 31 flights over and over as many times as they could in an hour before collapsing in a heap of exhausting. Here they are pre climb and lined up:

power hour climbers in line

LOL’s power hour climbers in line and ready to go!

power hour climbers pre climb

Chris, Paul, and Sue- Team LOL’s power hour climbers– right before GO TIME!

It was amazing to watch! Chris literally came running out of the elevator smiling and looking unfazed from each climb. Some of the climber behind her looked upset at her enthusiasm. She was so bubbly and bouncy…I’m pretty sure her body parts are alien as they moved to well for all that climbing. She climbed 31 flights EIGHT TIMES in one hour. Beast mode was definitely activated…keep in mind she was SMILING this whole time!   Paul, who happens to be attached to Chris (are you surprised??) was also moving at lightning speed and rocked out the stairs doing 7 climbs in an hour. His face was set in calm and calculated “what…stairs? These are nothing to me.” Look as he moved each round.  Sue cruised through six rounds of 31 flights with barely a bead of sweat gracing her brow. She gave us a half-smile as she went by each time. I’m not sure if she was saying “get out of my face I’m working” or “I’m ready to be done now” Either way, she was cool and collected throughout her amazing feat of climbing.

Here are LOL’s power hour climbers after the race…notice they look unfazed:

Chris, Sue, and Paul- post multiple climbs!

Chris, Sue, and Paul- post multiple climbs!

Climbing 31 flights of stairs is not for the faint of heart. Even if you’re climbing slowly, you become out of breath and fatigued. RACING 31 flights of stairs beats you down. Your lungs feel as though they’re bleeding—you can’t get any air at all. Your muscles fill with lactic acid and so begin to feel heavy and cramped as you become anaerobic due to the lack of oxygen. It literally is a fight to get to the top as you use everything you have not to quit when you’re in pain in multiple areas and your brain yells “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?”

Here are the folks about to take on this pain—introducing the 2014 Team LOL racers:

back row- Will, Don, Mike, Mike, Janet, Dan. Middle row- Lori, Ananda, Alison, Terry Front- Mark, Sarah (ME!) and Dan.

back row- Will, Don, Mike, Mike, Janet, Dan. Middle row- Lori, Ananda, Alison, Terry Front- Mark, Sarah (ME!) and Dan.

Sarah preclimb

We lined up at about 8:35. As per usual, there were a few antics in the line. There was some random dancing, random stretching, poop-jokes, and perhaps a little encouragement mixed in.  The energy was good and high. I know I was ready to climb.

antics in the line

Dan was doing some pre-race stretching, utilizing a teammate…

LOL line up

Team LOL about to be let into the stairwell- note the concentration and conversation in the line

sarah about to go

It’s my turn in 5, 4, 3, 2….GO!

Sarah and Ananda

Ananda and I waiting in line before the stair climb

We hit the stairwell one by one about 10 seconds apart and the climb had started. The LOLers raced.  I don’t think any of the LOLers avoided the pain cave in the Fight for Air.  While I can only give my experience in the stairwell, looking at the times of the others—the faces and coughing at the top of the others—I truly believe each of the team gave an amazing amount of effort.  It’s easy to give up when it hurt. This was a strong team. I hope I get many of them back next year.

As for me? I learned a lot at the IDS tower race. I didn’t walk this time. I took positive thoughts into the stairwell. I enthusiastically burst into the stairwell with a smile and double stepped quickly up the first 10 flights, which was about the point where it felt like my lungs and heart would burst out of my chest. I switched to a running single step, using the rail in an attempt to bring the breathing down just a touch. In my mind I reminded myself that it would only be 5 minutes of pain if I could maintain a fast pace. I sped back up to a double for a few flights. Sure enough being out of air caused some lactic acid build up and my legs fatigued by floor 20. I gripped the rails and pulled myself up, keeping a double stair motion but using my arms and moving as quickly as I could. I watched the floors go by counting down. I knew it would be over soon. Suddenly there was only one floor left and I was able to move up it and out of the stair well. I was done and I had given what I had.  I got my chip cut off, got my medal and joined my teammates that had finished waiting for the rest of the team to come out of the stairwell.   I felt good.

When everyone finished, we went down to the skyway and got the goodies they had there and some of us hit the Railstation for an after party. This year the Fight for Air was at US Bank Plaza where in prior years it has been at Accenture. Unfortunately the new layout wasn’t as good for things like pre-climb and post-climb festivities. It felt really disjointed and really there was no celebratory atmosphere and it was actually hard to find people as you didn’t cross the line into a party like at other climbs. The start was also disjointed as there were glass doors separating the start line from the rest of the climbers/spectators etc. and there were not viewing areas for spectators in any of the stairwells.  I do hope they move it to a tower that can have a party at the top…or back to Accenture next year.

So how did LOL do as far as results?  Obviously since it’s my blog I’m going to brag about myself first…then I’ll brag about my team and teammates.

I DID GREAT! GO ME! YAY!! FINALLY! Ok. There you go. Bragging!

I placed 3rd overall female according to text results, 2nd overall female according to searchable results (the timers can’t explain that one to me…one rounds up and one rounds down was their explanation)
I ran the 31 flights in 5:26/5:27 depending on which results you look at (again that rounding thing)
And I won my age group (no matter which results you look at)
I was 29th overall—out of 771 climbers!

The Team:
Don Sullivan placed 5th OVERALL with a climb time of 4:39 !
Mark Bauer placed 6th OVERALL with a climb time of 4:41 !

Alison Wilford took  the OVERALL FEMALE SPOT with a climb time of 5:16 !

Chris Hesse-Withbroe climbed EIGHT times AND once they fix her age, placed 2nd in her age group with a fastest climb time of those eight times of 5:59

Sue Farmer climbed SIX times AND placed 3rd in her age group with a fastest climb time of those six of 6:27

TEAM LOL placed 2nd as a team, missing first by only a few seconds. The amazing speed and grit is seriously awesome.

Below are the climb times of LOLers not mentioned above just to show the serious awesomeness as it can’t be dismissed as to how seriously wicked these times are:

Dan Laplante– 5:08  19th overall and scored for the team.  Also high honors as he didn’t poop his pants on the way up the stairwell
William Nentl– 5:26 27th overall- first time climber!
Dan Woods– 5:38 34th overall- first time climber!
Michael Albrecht– 5:49 43rd overall—Award for continuing to join LOL even though it hurts so bad.
Paul Eaton– Climbed SEVEN TIMES and the fastest of those was 6:09, 64th place overall!
Ananda Henley– 6:31 85th overall- first time climber and convinced the ALA to spell her name in as “Amanda Henley”, her favorite spelling, to climb incognito—well played Ananda.
Terry Gray 6:49 108 th   overall- first time climber and non-runner— and he was smiling. Award for “Impressive!!”
Mike Madden 6:51 111th overall – first time climber!!
Lori Golightly 7:27 180th (179 bib)place- first time climber who attempted to match her place to her bib and would have gotten a prize for doing so….SO CLOSE LORI, SO VERY VERY CLOSE!!!!
Janet Gray 7:37 200th overall- first time climber!!

For full results go here for searchable results SEARCHABLE RESULTS
and here for text results TEXT RESULTS 

So just look at the above and you can see why I’m raving and in awe of the team I got to “captain” this year.  This remains one of my favorite events to do and I can’t wait for next year—I just hope that they move it back to Accenture.


2 thoughts on “Team LOL- Fight for Air! We were Awesome!

    • This year, sadly, I didn’t train other than popping on the Arc trainer a few times in order to make sure I could gut through anaerobic activity without giving up mentally. I wasn’t sure how it would go so I did a lot of mental gearing up for it. Stairs are pretty mean and very mental because you want to stop and catch your breath. If you can talk yourself into continuing through the torture, they’re over pretty fast.
      Most people I’ve gotten into the stairwell to try racing has fallen in love and wanted to do it again!

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